It was the day before Christmas Eve. I was still in Chapel Hill and I had just finished a long work shift after an equally long week.
My seven other housemates had all left for winter break, which left me all alone.
My headphones blasting music into my ears, I unlocked my front door and walked into my empty, dark house. I was looking forward to relaxing for the rest of the night, and maybe play some video games on my housemate’s Xbox, but I stopped short as I walked into my room and turned on my light.
There, on my bed, I found nearly the entire contents of my room. I was confused at first. Was this some elaborate prank?
But I quickly realized that wasn't the case. It was clear someone had broken into my house. Heart racing, I pulled off my headphones and listened intently in case the intruder was still inside.
Quickly and quietly, heart in my mouth, I sneaked out of my house. I called the police immediately and my mother quickly after. I promised to call her back when the police left and hung up, waiting for the law to show up and restore order in my house and in my head.
They showed up several minutes later — not a bad response time for someone who wasn't in any immediate danger. Perhaps it was a slow night.
Quickly, what happened became clear. The intruder had thrown a concrete block into my door and was then able to reach inside and unlock the doorknob. Once inside, they proceeded to break down every single locked door in my house. Furniture was overturned, personal belongings were scattered, but it seemed that not much of value had been taken.
Video game consoles had been left, as had computers, Kindles and other similar items. Some cash had been taken, as well as a new pair of shoes I had bought to treat myself. I really liked those shoes, so I was definitely pissed off.
The two officers cleared the house and assured me everything was alright. They left me with an info packet, a business card and the case number.
They warned me briefly before pulling away in their cars: “Sometimes guys like this come back a second time.”
At this point, I was a little on edge. The officers’ warning echoed in my head, so I stayed up a little later than I normally would on a night like this. I figured there was no way anyone would break in again later than 3 a.m. — they’d just be too tired.
It was 2:30 a.m. I was listening to music again, but I only had one side of my headphones on so I could hear what was going on in the rest of the house. My desk light was on as I surfed the internet.
I heard a scuffling noise.
I took off my headphones. Had I actually heard a noise or was my imagination tricking me?
The sound was definitely footsteps on my stairs. There was someone in my house, and they were headed up my stairs.
Time stopped for a second, and I came to terms with what was happening. My house was being broken into again. I didn’t know how many people were in my house. I didn’t know if they had weapons, but I knew they were coming upstairs.
I was trapped in my room. My window is especially hard to open and would've given me away. I couldn’t leave my room with them in the hallway.
But I had one advantage: I knew where they were. They didn’t know where I was.
A door squeaked open to my left. They were in Ned’s room.They were checking our bedrooms. They were two bedrooms away from mine, so I had some time to plan.
Locking my door was a bad idea. They had broken down all the locked doors in the house on their first time, so they would definitely break mine down.
I looked around my room. My computer light was still on, and gave off just enough light to see. The only thing I had within reach was a scented candle in a heavy glass jar. It wasn’t a great weapon, but it was the only thing I could get my hands on without walking across my squeaky floor and giving away my position.
So I sat in my chair and listened as they opened the door to my room. I was next, and I only had a candle to defend myself with.
A particularly nasty thought popped into my head:
You could be dead in 30 seconds. Good luck.
I could hear the footsteps approaching my room.
The handle creaked.
I couldn’t hear anything over the sound of my heart which had decided to vacate my chest and take up residence in my brain.
I didn’t move.
The door creaked open.
A footstep sounded on the wooden floor.
He hadn't turned on lights, so I couldn’t see him. But my computer screen was still on, and he had caught sight of me.
I decided it was time to act.
I let loose what I could most accurately describe as a battle cry. I carefully worded the thing to convince the intruder outside my door that he would be hit with a scented candle if he didn’t make a hasty exit.
I sat in silence with a bit of a relieved grin on my face as I heard a scrambling and thumping sound. The intruder had fallen down the stairs. I heard a scraping and the sound of the back door opening, and then I immediately dialed 911.
A car engine started somewhere outside of my house, and I heard tires turning.
The only logical thing now was to try to get his license plate number.
A voice emanated from my phone, asking me what was going on, but, frankly, I was too busy dashing out of my front door to say much. In my left hand, my iPhone; in my right, the scented candle in the heavy glass jar. I had no shoes on my feet, I had baggy sweatpants on and I wore a large unbuttoned coat.
Down the alleyway, to my left, a black new model Jeep streaked past me in reverse. The intruder was smart — whoever was driving the car guessed I would try to read his license plate.
Naturally, the only response to this development was to chase down the car as I angrily shook my candle.
Several cars passed us during this rather absurd chase. I can only hope they got a good laugh out of the whole thing.
Overall, it was a 4/10 experience. The car chase scene always adds a couple points to the rating, however, the moments where you question if you'll be alive in 30 seconds definitely detract from the experience as well as the fact that the police never managed to find the intruder.
So if you see someone wearing white Adidas Pharrell Human Race sneakers and driving a new model black Jeep, go ahead and ask them where they got those shoes. I would very much like them back.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.